Meditation affects emotional processing even when you’re not meditating

This is the first study of its kind to demonstrate that meditation training affects emotional processing even when no meditation is taking place. 

Photo: Jon Olav/

This new study demonstrates how meditation has quantifiable effects on the brain, even when one is not actively meditating.

The study was published this month in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Arizona, Boston University, the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies and Emory University studied participants in an eight-week meditation training program. Three weeks after completing the program, participants brains were scanned. Researchers found changes to the amygdala brain region—the same effects on emotional processing uncovered by past studies, the difference in this new study being that participants were not meditating at the time of the brain scan.

“This is the first time that meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state,” study researcher Gaëlle Desbordes, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University’s Center for Computation Neuroscience and Neural Technology, said in a statement.

The study demonstrates how meditation can create enduring changes in the way emotions are processed.